Clydesdales Coming For Christmas Parade

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 27, 2008

When Brookhaven’s annual downtown Christmas parade forms up androlls out at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4, it will feature a team of eightspecialists known worldwide for their feats of strength andbeauty.

After a year of negotiation, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamberof Commerce Christmas Parade Chairwoman Rita Rich has successfullylobbied Budweiser’s Natchez-based Southwest Distributors, Inc. tohave a team of Clydesdale horses and all their historical gearappear in the parade. The one-ton horses will appear as one of theSesquicentennial Steering Committee’s final contributions toBrookhaven’s yearlong birthday celebration.

“We’ve never had anything of this magnitude in the paradebefore,” Rich said. “This is probably one of the bigger – orbiggest – entries we’ve ever had.”

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Rich said she worked since last year’s Christmas parade ended toland the Clydesdales for 2008 to create an extra bit of excitementfor the 150-year-themed parade.

“They just kind of fit into history,” she said. “These horsesare nationally known, you know – they go all over the country. Wealways have a lot of interest from the horsemen in Lincoln County,but this should create some extra excitement for everyone.”

Tentative plans are to have the Clydesdales toward the rear ofthe parade, leading the horse section. Budweiser does not allow itswell-pampered horses to wear manure catchers, so they will not leadthe parade.

The Clydesdales will not be limited to only parade duty. Theten-horse team – eight wagon-pullers and two backups – will be ondisplay for the public at the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Arena onFriday, Dec. 5, from noon to 7 p.m.

They will appear in McComb’s Christmas parade Saturday morning,and return to Brookhaven for another public appearance at themulti-purpose arena from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Clydesdales’ last appearance will be Sunday at the arenafrom noon to 5 p.m., and they will leave town Monday. A finalizedschedule will be published sometime in November.

All of the horses’ appearances – including the parade – will befree. All expenses are being paid by Budweiser, as the company hasa particular way of taking care of presenting its prizeanimals.

Southwest Distributors, Inc. Sales Representative StephanieHutchins said the Clydesdales’ presentation is meticulous, rightdown to the historical gear they are hitched to.

The horses travel is custom trailers with rubber flooring andair suspensions. A team of special groomers travels with the horsesto groom them daily, and show day grooming is a five-houraffair.

Once groomed and ready for the parade, the Clydesdales aredecorated with red and white ribbons and hitched to a red, whiteand gold 1903 Studebaker beer wagon. The total weight of the eighthorses and one wagon is approximately 12 tons.

Clydesdales were first bred in Scotland in the early 1800s aswork horses. They became popular in America as draft horses fortheir ability to pull heavy beer wagons.

The horses were first used by Budweiser in 1933, and now travelmore than 100,000 miles annually for public appearances.